Reminder – 874-878 South Street Community Meeting This Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 6:30pm at the Roslindale Community Center

Just a reminder that the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services is holding a community meeting this Tuesday, March 28, 2017 at 6:30pm at the Roslindale Community Center (6 Cummins Highway) regarding a proposed development at 874-878 South Street (near the intersection with Walter). Details:

874 South Street (Currently)

874 South Street (Currently)

874-878 South Street Installment 2 – Finally back with revised proposal for public consideration – 6:30 pm, 28 March 2017, at the RCC

874 South Street Meeting Flyer

874 South Street Meeting Flyer

It’s been almost 2 years, but the 874-878 South Street proposal that was the subject of a WUR long-form blog post in July 2015 is finally returning with a revised proposal.

The meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 28, at 6:30 pm at the Roslindale Community Center. Flyer for meeting here.

Based on what was said by the property owner and his attorney at the LANA meeting a week or so ago, it sounds like the proposal will be for 9 residential units with 18 off-street parking spaces. For those keeping score at home, that’s a reduction from the original proposal of 6 residential units and an increase of 3 off-street parking spaces. Revised plans were not available at the LANA meeting, though they will reportedly be available this coming Tuesday.

For the record, I continue to live 2 blocks from this location. From my own perspective and given this location within walking distance of the commuter rail station and Roslindale Square, the revised unit count is lower than it should be and the number of off-street parking spaces is at least 4 spaces too many. I would really prefer a 1-to-1 space to unit ratio at this location. While I recognize some neighbors see this issue differently, on-street parking issues at this location and along the stretch of South Street and the intersecting streets toward the commuter rail are relatively minimal, except on Sunday mornings. Increasing the parking space count here may prevent there ever being an issue from this development related to on-street parking, but it will tend to increase vehicle traffic by encouraging car ownership by development residents and, to the extent automatically included with each unit, will increase the cost of each unit in the development. Accordingly, in addition to wanting to see the revised design, I will be interested in a discussion of the parking space count, how the revised plans locate those spaces on the site, what kind of space is left over, and how much consideration is or isn’t being given to bicycle parking and encouraging bicycling and walking as well as zipcar and transit use.

Let 10,000 flowers – or at least 4 NSS applications – bloom in Roslindale! (UPDATED with survey link for Lower South)

We here at WalkUP Roslindale have been talking up BTD’s Neighborhood Slow Streets (NSS) program since they released the application package a few weeks ago. We even went so far as to host a workshop a bit over a month ago to inform and encourage our neighbors all across this great neighborhood to band together and apply. At this point, we are aware of at least 4 separate NSS applications in Roslindale that are in production and almost certain to be submitted by the March 24 deadline. They are listed below with contact information, their draft area maps, and, where available, links to the online surveys for residents in those areas to weigh in on their concerns and support for the concept of making our residential streets safer through calmed traffic:

Longfellow Area (from Knoll to Congreve, between Centre and South/Walter plus the spur of South from the Walter-South intersection to the commuter rail station): LINK to survey. Contact: Rob Orthman, robert.orthman@nullgmail.com.

Lower South Street (South/Bussey intersection down through the Archdale bridge, covering the side streets between South and Washington to Firth and then crossing Washington to pick up the side streets between Florence and Washington down to Cummins). SURVEY LINK. Contact: Steve Gag, stevengag@nullgmail.com.

Metropolitan Hill/Beech Street (Metropolitan to Beech, Washington to Poplar): LINK here. Contact: Sarah Kurpiel Lee, stk1221@nullgmail.com.

Mount Hope/Canterbury (residential side streets off of American Legion, from Walk Hill and Mount Hope to Cummins). Contact: Lisa Beatman, lisabeatman@nullyahoo.com.

 

South/Bussey Proposed Improvements – Public Meeting – 6 pm on 2/1 @ Arboretum Weld Hill Facility

Bussey and South Street

Intersection of Bussey and South Street, seen from South Street heading southwest away from Jamaica Plain

Share this as broadly as you can: the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) and Public Works Department (PWD) will hold a public meeting on proposed improvements for the Bussey-South intersection – 6 pm on February 1, 2017 at the Weld Hill Research Building in the Arboretum (1300 Centre Street). This is currently one of the least pedestrian friendly intersections in and around the Arboretum and is in desperate need of a walkable redesign. Please attend to lend your critical thinking and advocacy skills for safer vehicle speeds and better walking and cycling in our neighborhood.

 

Child hit by car on Metropolitan Avenue in Roslindale

On this World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (according to the World Health Organization, 1.2 million people killed every year by traffic violence and 50 million injured), we are dismayed to report another serious pedestrian crash in our neighborhood. On Friday, a nine-year old boy was hit by a car shortly after stepping off his school bus at the intersection of Metropolitan Ave and Kittredge Street. The most informative media report comes from WCVB: Boy recovering after being hit by car in Roslindale. We extend our sympathy to the boy and his family, and wish him the speediest possible recovery.

Although it looks like the child will recover, we must remember it is predictable and indeed certain that crashes like this will happen again and again until and unless we do more than pay lip service to Vision Zero Boston. A quick look at the intersection, which is in the middle of a slope just past a peak limiting line-of-sight visibility, reveals a stark absence of critical infrastructure to protect people on foot: no crosswalk, no traffic calming, no curb bump-outs, not even a stop sign on the main street in a densely settled area with chronic speeding problems. There are dozens (perhaps hundreds) of intersections like this in Roslindale alone, and the fact that people keep getting hit and occasionally killed by cars in them is a reminder that these incidents are crashes, not accidents.

Intersection of Metropolitan Ave and Kittredge Street

Intersection of Metropolitan Ave and Kittredge Street

It’s time to demand more. We can’t just wait for someone to be seriously or fatally injured on a one-off basis to take a look at specific street crossings, and then spend a year patching up that one spot. Sign the Vision Zero Petition, speak to your neighbors, and tell your elected leaders and appointed bureaucrats at every possible opportunity that it’s time to proactively address road safety across the entire city. There are plenty of successful examples to follow, but at the rate we’re going now it will be a century or more before we realize the core Vision Zero principle: No loss of life is acceptable.

Washington @ Blue Ledge – Finally done!

I wasn’t able to take pictures, but I did verify this morning that the flashing pedestrian beacon has finally been installed at the reconfigured crosswalk at Washington and Blue Ledge. In addition, the lane striping that had been torn up by recent utility work has also been restored. While I have, at times, expressed frustration with the pace of the response to the tragedy at this location, the end result here is definitely a substantial improvement from a pedestrian safety perspective.

Thanks again to the city’s transportation and public works departments, and their consultants and contractors, for developing a plan, taking on this installation, and getting it done.

We can only hope that we don’t have to do any more rapid responses in Roslindale and elsewhere in the city. Instead, it would be great to step up the effort to turn Vision Zero from policy to reality — to take the lessons learned about planning and process here and apply them to all of the many, many places around our neighborhood where we know dangerous pedestrian and bicycle conditions exist.

Washington @ Blue Ledge – Flex posts are now on the ground!

We are happy to report that flex posts have gone in the ground at Washington & Blue Ledge. Our sincerest thanks to BTD and PWD for moving the Vision Zero crash response here to this milestone. All that remains is the installation of the pedestrian crossing beacon. A couple of photos taken early on Saturday morning.

View looking north. Unfortunately, recent Comcast utility work has damaged crosswalk and bike lane markings.

View looking north. Unfortunately, recent Comcast utility work has damaged crosswalk and bike lane markings. Flex posts look good, though!

View looking south.

View looking south.

Two Greenway Partner Sites are in Roslindale!

We were a bit busy this past week, so not much time to post, but wanted to make sure folks knew that both the Arboretum Gateway Path and the American Legion Greenway have been selected by LivableStreets Alliance to be Greenway Partner projects! The selections were made public at the Tour de Streets event a week ago Saturday. Links here:

This means LivableStreets Alliance has committed to working with both WalkUP Roslindale and the American Legion Corridor Coalition and helping them move forward. This is great news and we all deeply appreciate the work LivableStreets Alliance is doing all around the region on the interrelated issues of walking, bicycling, and transit connectivity.

Stonybrook Neighborhood Slow Streets — We see what VZB means by the term and we definitely want it now

Readers of this blog may recall that we offered written testimony to the Boston City Council at their hearing on Vision Zero in May of this year —

WalkUP Testimony at City Vision Zero Hearing

— and that a major part of our focus was on the Neighborhood Slow Streets program and the slow pace of its rollout in Stonybrook and Talbot-Norfolk Triangle. Back then, we put it this way:

And we also applaud the concept of Slow Speed Zones outlined in BTD’s December 2015 Vision Zero Boston Action Plan. These zones would combine a lower speed limit in defined areas with the physical interventions needed to really make a difference – curb extensions, refuge islands and medians, raised crosswalks, special crosswalk signals, vehicle speed monitors, narrower vehicle travel lanes, street diets, and separated bicycle lanes/tracks. We are eagerly awaiting the initial roll out of Slow Speed Zones in the Norfolk-Talbot Triangle in Dorchester and the Stonybrook Area in Jamaica Plain this year. That said, we are surprised that there has been so little information shared or made available broadly about the progress on those areas and we have heard nothing definitive to date about the expansion of the Slow Speed Zones to other neighborhoods once the first two have been implemented. This is desperately needed, it should happen as fast as possible once the essential combination of interventions has been decided, and BTD should be planning for this expansion right now – I can safely say that my own neighborhood of Peters Hill will be among those areas seeking designation as soon as the expansion process is made public. Slowing speeds in our neighborhoods will save lives. While we understand capacity constraints, there is no need to wait or take this part of the Vision Zero effort slow. Everyone in Boston deserves to live on a street on which vehicle speeds are safe.

This past Wednesday evening, the public finally saw the plan for Stonybrook at a community meeting held at English High:

stonybrook-plan-2

I was there myself, along with 3 WUR compatriots, and can attest to the strong support this plan had with the people from that community, including the Stonybrook Neighborhood Association. The most critical features of the plan are a 20 mph speed limit, gateways and signs at the entrances to the area announcing it as such, daylighting of crosswalks, and strategically spaced speed humps (wider than speed bumps, much more effective, and much less taxing on vehicles). I should also mention that this is only phase 1 and that phase 2 is intended to include curb extensions and raised crosswalks at key locations. All in all, the recipe makes sense and BTD deserves thanks and praise for putting this together. We will thank and praise them even more if they get this and Talbot-Norfolk Triangle (their meeting comes later this month – we should all go to that one too in order to show our support) done before the year is out.

And, then, dear friends, we should push everyone we know in our city’s government to find more funding and more capacity to roll this set of changes out to every residential neighborhood in Boston as soon as possible. The stated goal is 2 areas per year. It should be 20. There is no reason to wait.

Everyone in every neighborhood deserves to live on a safe street.

UPDATE: Materials from the meeting have now been posted online here, including the full plan of which only a snapshot is provided above.